1965 Ford Mustang Cammer drag car

This Mustang was built in 1965–66 and ran Division Five until October 17, 1971, when it was retired. The best time it ran was 9.97 at 137.4 mph, with a weight of 3,150 lbs with a driver, in Denver. It has always been a race car, so it has never seen bad weather. The body is perfect — never any rust, never wrecked and always garaged. It was found in June 2000, in a metal building 40 miles east of Cheyenne, WY, where it sat for many years.

The engine is a fresh 482-ci rebuild of original Cammer engine #274. The car has Hilborn injection and is computer-controlled using a Carabine computer. It has custom-made headers, a nine-quart oil pan with baffles, a Scat nodular crank, Diamond forged pistons, 13.0 compression, Scat forged rods, and Ferrea valves. The bore is 4.251 inches and the stroke is 4.5 inches.

It was originally raced in a light blue color and had Wynns Friction Proofing and Pennzoil stickers on it. It still has the original, metal-flake-blue steering wheel from 1965. It was raced at CDR, Pueblo and in California at the Hot Rod Reunions. It was offered from the Jim Mangione Collection.

{analysis}This car, Lot 1019.1, sold for $121,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson sale in Scottsdale, AZ, on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.

Vintage drag cars seem to be on fire as of late, as collectors and enthusiasts search for the most unusual, odd, radical and, in this case, bitchin’ machines. The more authentic the car is, in general, the more it will ring the cash register. It has to have the right stance, the right engine, the right history, the right documentation and the right bidders to move the car up the bidders’ ladder. So how does chassis 658995 stack up?

Put a SOHC in it

Let’s start with the most desirable feature this car brings to the table. The 427 “Cammer” engine is arguably one of Ford’s finest engineering achievements.

In the mid-’60s, Hemi-powered Chryslers were tearing up the NASCAR tracks and were literally leaving the competition in the dust. Near the same time, Ford had unleashed the “Total Performance” marketing campaign, which took direct aim at the Pentagram and Bowtie boys to brand Ford as the performance leader.

Although the SOHC 427 (single overhead cam, aka “sock”) was an engineering masterpiece, it was banned from use in NASCAR due to good-ol’-boy politics. Team Chrysler threatened to drop out if management let the new, dominating engine on the track — not to mention that no Ford product came fitted out of the showroom with the new engine. Ford responded by sitting out the 1966 season as a measure of protest.

NASCAR, no. NHRA and AHRA, yes

When NASCAR torpedoed the intended use of the engine, Ford turned to the guys over at NHRA and AHRA for approval to put the engine in various Ford drag cars. When it came, Ford quickly teamed up with Holman-Moody to prepare 11 Mustang fastbacks for the new A/FX class that was taking the drag-racing world by storm.

Five of the cars would be fitted with the all-new 427 SOHC engine, and the remaining with the 427 “Hi-Riser” mill — until more SOHCs could be supplied. Although our subject car wasn’t one of the original Holman-Moody drag cars, it is, without question, inspired by them and is nearly identical in its general appearance.

The 680-pound gorilla

The 427 engine in our profile car is reported to be engine 247 out of 550 built by Ford’s performance division. As delivered by Ford, the engine made 616 horsepower at 7,000 rpm with 515 ft/lbs of torque at 3,800 rpm with a single 4-bbl, and 657 horsepower with two fours up top — the most power ever generated by a production race engine — and it weighed in at a manageable 680 pounds. Drag teams, never content to leave anything stock alone, squeezed even more power out of the iron horse, making a reported 715 horsepower.

Limited history

Our subject car has documentation of a competition history on Division Five tracks, which are in the west-central and Midwest states, including Colorado and Wyoming. That’s good, as it helps to legitimize the car’s story and also helps to confirm the past racing history.

Although the documentation shows a best quartermile time of 9.97 at 137.4 mph in Denver, which was very quick for the division, the racing provenance appears to be primarily from the Division Five area from 1965 until retirement in 1971. This would suggest that the car was run locally rather than nationally, and unless other documentation comes forth, it is most likely a car that competed out of the main limelight of the larger sponsored teams. That’s not quite so good, as vintage limelight adds value.

A personalized restoration

Our ’65 Cammer was reported to have been squirreled away in a supply shed for 30 years before being discovered and restored to its condition as presented at the Barrett-Jackson sale.

On-board parts consist of a mixture of vintage bits as well as modern-day go-fast components, which indicates that the car has been used, as intended, for plastering its driver firmly into the seat. The car displays much of the original “born-with” aura that an original A/FX drag car would have possessed in 1965.

But former track cars are judged by their originality, how much documented provenance they carry, and how notorious each car was back in the day. While a guy could build a similar car for less, it would be just that — similar. It would only be a replica of the real deal, but with no actual period track history, be it local, regional or national.

What’s it worth?

Chassis 658995 is not a well-known car. The track history is limited, or at the least regional, which sets the car on a lower tier than a more publicized car by one of the larger racing teams, such as Dick Brannan or Phil Bonner.

That said, it still has the right look and stance. The engine alone could bring $50,000 to $75,000 if offered in a largely publicized auction (Mecum sold one for $54,060 in 2011). The Hilborn injection simply adds to the period look, and the car was reported to be ready to use.

At the end of the day, this was a well-sorted real drag car with a limited regional provenance and an expensive engine. When you add it all up, take it all in, and analyze the data, I’d call it well sold.